Photovoltaics Give Credibility To A Solar Revolution
Better and cheaper solar panels have led to rapid adoption of solar power. If progress continues, solar will not just address environmentalist goals, but also upset global energy geopolitics.
The total amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth’s surface each year is roughly 750,000 petawatt-hours (PWh), more than 5000 times global energy consumption in 2015.1 This abundance means there are few other sources of energy that could prove as disruptive to global energy markets and geopolitics as solar power. Since the year 2000, solar power has rapidly grown from a curiosity into a notable source of energy. From 2000 to 2020, global electricity consumption soared by 75% to 25.8 PWh and solar’s contribution grew 788-fold to 0.8 PWh—or 3.3% of all consumption.2 The price of solar power dropped dramatically from $359 per MWh to $37 per MWh between 2009 and 2020,3 and solar industry revenues soared to US$170 billion in 2020.4